JOHANNESBURG — Eight South African police officers were charged with murder on Friday in the death of a taxi driver dragged by a police vehicle, a videotaped episode that became a worldwide symbol of police brutality in this country.
Earlier on Friday, friends and relatives of Mido Macia gathered around a simple table adorned with a few flowers in the poor township of Daveyton, to mourn the death of the slender 27-year-old who died shortly after the dragging episode on Tuesday.
South Africa’s police chief, General Riah Phiyega said she shared ‘‘the extreme shock and outrage’’ over the video evidence of abuse of Macia by police officers and said his rights were ‘‘violated in the most extreme form.’’
Dressed in a formal police uniform, Phiyega said at a press conference that she stands by the integrity of her police force and insisted she will do her utmost to bring to justice those guilty of the death of Macia.
Hours later, Moses Dlamini of the police investigation unit said eight policemen from Daveyton were charged with murder.
The restraining and dragging of the man, who had allegedly parked in the wrong spot, was videotaped by members of a horrified crowd of onlookers who beseeched the police to stop their abuse and questioned their motives in dragging the taxi driver away with their police car, as he was struggling for his life.
He was found dead in prison a few hours later, suffering from head and upper abdomen injuries, including internal bleeding. The injuries could be from the dragging and he could also have been beaten later in police custody.